Fair Play: A timely recognition for Cesafi

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Jan. 30 issue)

I MAY criticize the Cesafi a lot, especially on its eligibility rules but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate what the league has done.

That’s why I’m glad that the Cesafi was recognized by the Philippine Sportswriters Association--despite the name, it’s a Manila-based group of sports scribes--for being a breeding ground of football, volleyball and of course, basketball players.

The recent Shakey’s V-League tournament of champions had USJ-R finishing second for the second straight time, losing to NCR’s Hope Christian School, which incidentally, recruited heavily from Cebu. And in the Philippine National Games last year, the beach volleyball finals was an all-Cebu affair, and the players were all products of Cesafi.

And in football, over the years, a lot of players who saw action in the Cesafi have suited up for the national team or, after finishing their high school campaigns, were recruited to the marquee Manila schools.

And in the local scene, I laud the Cesafi for insisting on holding its football tournament at the Cebu City Sports Center, the most convenient venue for matches.

Cesafi commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy, who received the award in behalf of the league in Manila, was there two years ago when the University of San Jose-Recoletos faced the University of San Carlos for the college title and boy did it attract a crowd.

It was, up to this day, the greatest crowd in a local football match that I’ve ever seen, upstaged only by the historic Singapore vs. Philippines match. The AFC Presidents Cup campaign that had Global FC representing the Philippines didn’t even have half the crowd of that USJ-R vs. USC game.

There were no organized booster groups but boy was that crowd noisy. That crowd, I later learned, led the commish to order that all football touranments be held at the CCSC regardless of the cost.

I think the three biggest top crowd for a local football tournament in Cebu all happened were all Cesafi championship matches. Next to the USJ-R vs. USC finals, was the crowd for the Don Bosco Technological Center vs. Sacred Heart School-Jesuits-Ateneo de Cebu finals just last year. And the third happened a day after the high school finals, when USJ-R beat USC anew for the college title.

To Commissioner Tiukinhoy and all the men and women behind the Cesafi, congratulations.


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